Large sectors of Mississippi's economy impacted by coronavirus

By Steve Wilson
March 21, 2020

An analysis of coronavirus cases nationwide shows that rural states with much smaller population densities and less international travel also have much fewer cases of the virus at this time. 

According to federal data, New York has the highest number of confirmed cases at more than 10,000, while Washington and California both have more than 1,000. West Virginia, South Dakota, Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming are the least impacted at this time. 

As testing continues to ramp up, Mississippi continues sees the number of positive cases increase. There are now 140 positive cases in the state as of Saturday morning, with one death. There have now been 775 individuals tested from the Department of Health’s Public Health laboratory. 

There is also the toll that the coronavirus is having on the economic wellbeing of the country, and individual states.

As for which states will bear the brunt of the financial impact, those with the most employment in leisure and hospitality and manufacturing will be hit the hardest. Mississippi is a big player in both employment sectors, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The leisure and hospitality sector includes lodging, food and beverage, recreation, and other travel-related fields. 

All casinos in Mississippi are closed and restaurants are switching to a takeout or delivery only, or are closing entirely. This has an outsized effect on the state’s economy as Mississippi has the 11th largest leisure and hospitality sector nationally, with 11.6 percent of its workforce in the industry.

Nevada (nearly 25 percent of their workforce), Hawaii (19.52 percent), Florida (13.92 percent) and Montana (13.38 percent) have the highest employment in the hospitality sector. 

Another employment sector heavily affected by COVID-19 is manufacturing. Major automakers are shutting down their factories, including the Nissan plant in Canton and the Toyota plant in Blue Springs. These shutdowns will also affect suppliers as well. 

Mississippi has the seventh largest manufacturing sector nationwide as a percentage of its total workforce at just under 13 percent. Indiana (17.06 percent), Wisconsin (16.34 percent), Iowa (14.37 percent), Michigan (14.27 percent and Kentucky (13.13 percent) are the nation’s leaders in this category.

One area that likely won’t be as affected by the economic shutdown, government. This is especially true at the state and local level. State lawmakers have already adopted legislation to ensure they will receive paid leave during the shutdown of the state. Mississippi has the ninth largest public sector employment as a percentage of its population at nearly 21 percent.

Alaska (more than 25 percent), Wyoming (24.1 percent), New Mexico (22 percent) have the largest public sectors as a percentage of their total employment.


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